Non-European execs scarce in Sweden: study

People with non-European backgrounds remain largely absent from the upper echelons of Sweden’s publicly traded companies, according to a new report.

Non-European execs scarce in Sweden: study
Incoming Electrolux CEO Keith McLoughlin of the US and current CEO Hans Stråberg

Swedish business daily Dagens Industri (DI) reviewed a list of 755 registered “insiders” from 34 publicly traded companies in Sweden.

According to the newspaper’s review, only three people with non-European backgrounds could be found among the companies’ operational management teams.

Sweden’s minister for integration Erik Ullenhag called the results a “total market failure” and wants to teach the Swedish business community “a lesson.”

The dearth of executives with non-European backgrounds in management at Sweden’s publicly traded companies is tied to a failure in Sweden’s “non-functioning” integration policy over the past decades, according to an economist at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv).

“It has been a very non-functioning integration policy, about getting them apartments, not jobs. The education system has also not worked in getting them the Swedish skills demanded on the labour market, which results in the low level of executives among non-European-born workers,” economist Li Jansson of the organisation told The Local on Friday.

Jansson collaborated on a large report this summer that found that non-European citizens have trouble establishing themselves in the market.

The organisation noticed that employment rates are very low. Only 50 percent of non-EU-born residents in Sweden are employed, including those in programmes subsidised by government, compared with 80 percent of those born in Sweden.

“The main reason why it is very hard is if you are not at all in the labour market, there are fewer people who can get to a senior position,” Jansson explained.

She added that Swedish demographics have changed dramatically in the last two decades. While 7 percent of the Swedish population was born outside of the EU in 1997, the number jumped to 11 percent in 2008.

“It generally takes a while to get into labour market, especially if your level of education is lower than the average Swede’s and it takes seven years on average to get into labour market in Sweden,” said Jansson

In addition, there were wide differences in employment rates across Swedish municipalities among non-EU-born workers, ranging from 17 percent to 76 percent, with Trosa southwest of Stockholm coming out on top.

“Traditional policies don’t matter, but there is a large effect statistically. It is much better in those municipalities with a very good company company. They have a positive effect on employment,” said Jansson.

She noted that these companies have more foreign-born workers in leading positions and jobs matching their skills and education levels, especially those with college-level qualifications.

Municipalities with more flexible labour markets also had more competition for jobs and were more favourable to foreign experience.

Big cities were less likely to have high rates of employment for those born outside of the EU. Only four in 10 non-EU-born Malmö residents are employed, for example, said Jansson.

Smaller municipalities she cited with high employment rates among non-EU-born residents included Bollebygd outside Gothenburg and Gnösjö in Småland, added Jansson.

She also noted that certain sectors attract more of these workers. For example, 26 percent of non-EU-born women in Stockholm work in health care.

“It starts with getting a job,” said Jansson.

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Swedish engineering giant ABB to quit Russia over Ukraine

Swedish-Swiss engineering giant ABB said on Thursday it will quit Russia as a result of the war in Ukraine and the related international sanctions against Moscow.

Swedish engineering giant ABB to quit Russia over Ukraine

Russia accounts for only one or two percent of ABB’s overall annual turnover and the decision to pull out will have an estimated financial impact in the second quarter of around $57 million, the group calculated.

“ABB has decided to exit the Russian market due to the ongoing war in Ukraine and impact of related international sanctions,” the group said in a statement.

Russia accounts for only one or two percent of ABB’s overall annual sales and the decision to pull out will have an estimated financial impact in the second quarter of around $57 million, the group calculated.


A large number of major western companies have pulled out of Russia since Moscow invaded its pro-Western neighbour on February 24.

“When the war broke out, ABB stopped taking new orders in Russia,” the group said.

At the same time, it said it continued to fulfill “a small number of existing contractual obligations with local customers, in compliance with applicable sanctions.”

Most of ABB’s dedicated Russian workforce has been on leave since March “and the company will do its best to support them as it realigns its operations in a controlled manner,” it said.

ABB has about 750 people in Russia and two production sites in the country located in the Moscow region and Lipetsk, as well as several service centres.

Separately, the group said that its net profit fell by 50 percent to $379 million in the second quarter, largely as a result of one-off charges, but also the cost of withdrawing from Russia.

Sales, on the other hand, grew by six percent to $7.2 billion in the period from April to June, ABB said.